Balancing urban development, Burkina Faso

Balancing urban development, Burkina Faso

Local markets play an enormous role in Burkina Faso as they form the core of local economies and build social platforms in towns and villages. For vendors, they are often the only place to commercialize agricultural and other products. The local population relies on these places to purchase food, clothing, household goods and machinery, yet today the traditional markets suffer from overcrowding, lack of general planning and limited basic infrastructure. Through the development of nine markets in the Sourou Valley and the Basin of Comoé, Pöyry contributes to the MCA (Millennium Challenge Account) Burkina Faso Agricultural Development project.

Pöyry’s project director is Sven Bolomey, civil engineer and experienced expert for urban development.

Sven, please tell us about Pöyry’s role in this project.

“Our assignment comprises the design for implementation and improvements to market infrastructure for nine market sites in south- and northwestern Burkina Faso. Our services cover the whole lifecycle of this urban development project – beginning from socio-economic and feasibility studies through to environmental impact assessment as well as design, tendering and construction supervision of the infrastructure measures.”


Project Director Sven Bolomey with local (left) and international (right) project team

Which measures were taken to ensure environmental protection?

“Engineering design must ensure that the markets mitigate major environmental impacts which can lead to disruptions in market activities. These include in particular both solid and liquid waste management, water supply and sanitation at all markets and improvement of drainage systems. Overall, our project will improve the market conditions and also increase their commercial potential. Nowadays, markets can be shut down during the rainy season, as there is no drainage system to evacuate water runoff.”

Business on Gouran market

What is the key challenge in the development of the markets from your point of view?

“It’s absolutely crucial that infrastructure solutions are adapted to the needs of local stakeholders and accepted by local populations. Our solutions must take into account specific cultural and social aspects as well as ensure the durability of constructions and their economic sustainability. Our project team, which is composed of local and international experts, works closely with the client as well as with local municipalities, communities and all other stakeholders to ensure that the design is adapted and feasible.”

How did you find out about these cultural and social particularities?

“We’ve spent much effort in order to really understand the functioning of the markets. The team carried out in-depth socio-economic surveying of market vendors on every market site in order to do a needs-based assessment. In a specific Market Definition Report, we presented the particularities of each of the nine market sites.”

Model of future latrines

Can you give us some concrete examples?

“Of course. Certain areas have strong fishery production, while others focus more on livestock – our design must take these issues into account. The markets cannot be moved from their current positions due to local beliefs and some market areas are sacred and cannot be touched at all! Social sustainability also means that during construction, the markets cannot be stopped and we have to find ways to maintain market operations. Finally, a tight balance between “taxing” local vendors for the use of the markets and the needs to operate and maintain the markets in the future must be found.”

Sven, thank you for this background information. We wish continued success for you and your team in the market development!

With our network of offices and local experience, Pöyry is well placed to meet the needs in many fields, such as infrastructure, transportation, energy, water and the environment. Pöyry strives to improve the way people live, work and travel.

Additional project facts »

More information about the Millennium Challenge Account Burkina Faso: